Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hi everyone! :D

It rains today in the early evening so I had to wait until it stopped at around 5.00pm. I did nothing much today since I didn't need to water the plant, many thanks to the tropical rain that lasted for almost an hour or so. So I just went around and was tidying up the garden when something occurred to me. But I am going to write about that later. In the mean time, let's see what I've been doing since a few days back. 

Fig. 1: Garden Shade

I bought some timber from the nearby hardware and built this garden shade for the raised beds of soil on the ground. The sun is very generous with its heat and light intensity previously that I thought it would be best to have the shade ready just in case. The three beds were just prepared and peppered with topsoil that I collected from a nearby forest. It will need at least two weeks for the organic matter to blend in with the soil, so I did nothing with it so far. The raised bed next to the shade is the bed I made for my Chinese parsley (daun sup) and spring onion (daun bawang). The total cost for the shade is RM60.

Fig. 2: Chinese Parsley and Spring Onions

I bought some Chinese parsley and spring onions from a nearby supermarket and plant them right into the ground. They are easy to grow as long as they still have their roots attached to them and there's plenty of water around. I have yet to trim them so they look kind of weak. The dark materials around them are the topsoil. I made a half an inch thick layer of them to keep the soil fertilized. The cost for the parsley and spring onions was RM5.

 Fig. 3: Compost Pit

This is my compost pit. I bought 3 meters of thick wire net at a price of RM25 from the same hardware as above and I constructed two cylindrical holders for my garden refuse. All I need is to water them daily or whenever required and wait in time for nature to decompose the organic matter in them. In the end I will get a high quality compost that I can recycle back in the garden. This way I can save much in fertilizer. Both cylinders can hold up to 200 liter capacity of fresh green cut. At the bottom of them is a raised bed I made to attract hungry earthworms to start munching on the green cut. I covered the bed with fresh green cut to keep the ground moist and cool for the comfort of the worms.

 Fig. 4: Lemon Grass

I bought 14 lemon grass shoots from the nearby supermarket again and it cost me RM6. I planted them all in a straight row with one foot distance from each other. They grow pretty fast too. This picture was taken during rain as you can notice. I intend to fill the empty spot of this part of the lawn with more lemon grass soon. This plant consumes organic matter pretty crazily so I have to place some rotting weeds around each of them to keep the ground fertilized continuously and moist at all time. Have to put some more though. With the rain happening everyday, the compost gets decomposed faster.

Fig. 5: Fireplace 

 Fig. 6: Fireplace

I love wood fire. The aroma, the heat, the crackling sound, all of them. After all I did my master's degree in combustion. So I made myself a fireplace. Pretty awesome huh? I collected dry twigs, branches and stems from the nearby forest and also from the campus and bring them back to dry some more before I fed them to this fireplace. I usually burned them in the late evening to keep the mosquitoes away (I had to burn some of the wet grasses to get the smoke). Sometimes I just burned them just for the fun of it. With very dry feed, the fire emitted almost no smoke at all. When the fireplace was in operation, I would take my chair and coffee and near it. It just felt peaceful.  

Fig. 7: Worms!

Remember when I said that something occurred to me this evening? I was peeking into my worm box and look at what I found! The number of worms has so far nearly doubled the original population. And look at the size of them! There is so much food in the worm box now than it was, and these fat, slimy buggers can eat the whole day long! As to generously reward them, I fed them with moist newspaper shreds, used tea leaves, used coffee powder, shredded banana peel and green weeds from the garden. Hope to see they grow more in population soon. 

Well that's all for now! How's my gardening effort so far? Please leave a comment in the comment box okay! 

Will update more soon! :D

I used this egg tray to plant my seeds. I think it's a good idea because the thick paper can contain water and is strong enough to keep its shape unless moved or physically disturbed when wet. The moisture in soil can be kept at a considerable level for half a day or so until next spraying is required. At one time, 30 holes can be used for seeding. I'm already experimenting with the seeds above this time around. Maybe I should be getting another two or more egg tray for this purpose soon. Usually shop owners just throw away this tray after business hour is over, and you can get them all for free like I did. 

Yes, I am a cheapo. But it works, so I guess it's fine ha? :D

So I received my mulberry cutting. 

Mulberry is a large tree but with rather small fruits. The fruits are reddish in color and is sweet, just like any other berries available. I was thinking if I can actually plant this thing so I bought a cutting at RM2 and I received the cutting via mail yesterday. 

Look at the picture below. The mulberry cutting is wrapped with a wet tissue at its bottom; I was not sure if it was only water or growth solution. The cutting was in a good health and was still pretty much alive when I retrieved it from the envelope. 

Figure 1: As-received mulberry cutting with bottom wrapped in wet tissue

Figure 2: New shoot?

Figure 2 shows the (probably) new shoot coming out from the stemcutting. The stem was a bit dry at the outside so it's time to plant it before it gets too dehydrated and loses high possibility to live when planted. So what I did was to mix a part of clay, a part of sand and a part of my home-made compost and placed the mixture in a plastic pot. I dug a hole around 5 cm deep at the middle and placed the stemcutting in it and closed the void with soil again. To keep the stemcutting hydrated, I pour some water into the pot until it dripped through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. That way, the soil will remain moist and by chance, the stemcutting will produce new roots soon if the condition permits. 

 Figure 3: All done!

So my mulberry cutting is ready to live again in this small pot, at least for now. Mulberry can grow up to 15-meter tall so there's no possible way to keep it in a pot like this. When it is old and strong enough, I will transfer it into the ground and let it live there for good. 

Hope to see its first leave coming out soon!

Hi everyone :D

I've wanted to post this entry earlier but Celcom Broadband wasn't at its best tonight (come to think of it, I really wonder when exactly it was at its best) so it took me some time to upload these few pictures as shown below, or to be precise, it took me an hour and forty-seven minutes and a few seconds. Not bad for a service that has so far claimed most places within Malaysia borders to be its territory. Nevertheless I managed to successfully uploaded them all and let's begin with some introductions in order not to leave you curious readers lost in the entire journey towards the end of this yet another gardening-based entry.

Today I planted pearl grass. 

Bearing the scientific name of Axonopus compressus, pearl grass is a type of the common cow grass but  is distinctively different in terms of its physical appearance mainly its leaves morphology. Often referred to as the dwarf A. compressus, pearl grass has smaller leaves and is ultimately shorter than cow grass. The advantages that put pearl grass above its close relative, the cow grass that is, in the list of the most preferred lawn grass is that it is almost maintenance-free. It does not need to be trimmed, it can stand direct sunlight, it only needs just enough water and fertilizer and it is more attractive than cow grass. 

Earlier this morning I went to the close-by plant nursery and asked for pearl grass. It was sold at RM3 for each 1 foot time 2 feet cutting. I took 9 units and it cost me RM27. Figure 1 above shows the stack of pearl grass that I bought. 

 Figure 1: Stack of pearl grass

Earlier this morning I went to the close-by plant nursery and asked for pearl grass. It was sold at RM3 for each 1 foot time 2 feet cutting. I took 9 units and it cost me RM27. Figure 1 above shows the stack of pearl grass that I bought. So I brought them home and started clearing the lawn from weeds and whatnot before preparing up to plant the grass.

Figure 2: Lawn measurement

In Figure 2, it can be observed that there are three units of pearl grass patch and a measurement tape. I measured the intended area to be planted with the grass and did some basic calculations in my head in order to ensure that I won't end up short with the grass supply. Using a knife, I cut each of the pearl grass patch into 8 sections of 6-inch square each. 

Figure 3: Grass planting

After measuring and cutting, I proceeded with planting the segments on the ground with half-inch depth just so that the roots of the grass will be precisely below the ground level while the leaves remain above it. I planted the segments in an alternating pattern of around a foot away from each other. In Figure 3, all four rows from the right have been planted while the rests still remained on top of the soil waiting for their turn. 

Figure 4: Planting completed

After planting all the segments, I tidied up the lawn with a metal rake to make sure that I have a flat ground. As you can see above, all the segments have been planted, the top soil raked about and in about 4 to 6 months, the exposed ground will be covered with the grass. In the mean time I need to fertilize the soil with dried chicken manure-based fertilizer, water the segments regularly and keep any weeds out out the grasses' way.

Figure 5: Eternity plant

Along with the pearl grass, I bought this Zamioculcas zamiifolia at the nursery at the price of RM10. This plant has thick, shiny leaves and is dark green in color. I used to keep this in my room when I lived in campus before, so I decided to plant it again at my new home. This guy can stand high temperature and even drought, and is just adorable to look at. I consider this as a gift for myself for being able to finish all the grass-planting job on schedule. 

I'll update from time to time about how they grow. Hope they'll grow up finely!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hello everyone!

It has been some time since I ordered the seeds from a local home gardener. I ordered a variety of seeds of flowers and common farm species. The seeds are shown below in the attached picture. I'm planning to plant the groundnut, the corn and the ladies finger first since they are easier to grow. Then I'll start with the tomato, the carrot, salad, cabbage and the eggplant, as well as the chili and others. Also included are the seeds of sunflowers, petunia, garland chrysanthemum and marigold. 

The stick at the bottom is a cutting from a mulberry tree. It's been so long since I wanted to plant a mulberry in my home compound so here it is! Hope to see the transformation of my garden soon enough. I'll share about it in this blog. 

Pray for me! :D

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Assalamualaikum dan hai.

Hari ini saya mahu berbicara tentang projek pelik terbaru saya sejak mendiami rumah sewa di luar kawasan kampus UTP iaitu projek membela cacing tanah di dalam rumah. Projek ini saya katakan pelik kerana pertamanya ramai peternak cacing biasanya membela cacing di luar kawasan rumah, dan keduanya cacing bukanlah satu binatang yang sesuai dijadikan belaan di rumah. 

Cacing adalah satu binatang yang mengundang maki hamun apabila dihulurkan kepada kebanyakan orang terutamanya perempuan. Badannya panjang, lembut dan berlendir (jangan fikir lain) dan meliang-meliuk apabila bergerak. Cacing akan terkejut apabila bertembung dengan makhluk lain yang mungkin difikirkan akan memakannya. Jadi apabila terkejut, cacing akan keluarkan cecair badan agar nampak kurus dan kecut. Bila kecut, nampak tak sedap, maka tidaklah dimakan. Bila keadaan dah difikirkan selamat, ia akan mula menyerap kembali air dari tanah dan menjadi gemuk kembali. 

Cacing tak ada gigi. Cacing makan benda-benda organik reput di dalam tanah dan menjadi agen mereput yang bagus. Cacing selalunya dibela untuk menguraikan bahan organik kepada vermikompos. Kalau untuk buat umpan memancing, selalunya orang akan korek sendiri. Mana ada masa nak bela-bela. Cacing makan tak berhenti. Kalau diikutkan, satu kilogram cacing boleh makan setengah kilogram sayuran dan sisa dapur dalam masa sehari. 

Namun demikian, untuk membela haiwan pelahap ini agak rumit. Cacing suka bergelap. Itu pasal dia duduk dalam tanah. Tanah pula tak boleh panas sangat, tak boleh lembap sangat. Macam-macam lah. Tapi kalau kena cara, cacing akan selesa di kediamannya dan akan makan tanpa henti. Apabila puas makan, cacing akan bertelur. Cacing adalah haiwan yang mempunyai kedua-dua alat kelamin. Jadi kalau ada seekor cacing pun yang dibela, tak ada hal. Puas bertelur, cacing akan makan semula. Dalam sebulan, 100 ekor cacing boleh jadi 1000 ekor jika cara belaannya betul. 

Jadi saya tak mahu cerita banyak-banyak. Kita lihat cara macam mana nak bela cacing dalam rumah dengan melihat gambar-gambar di bawah.

Mula-mula cari tong. Tak kisah tong macam mana, yang penting dinding dia tak lut cahaya. Cacing kan suka bergelap. Jadi jika dinding tong adalah lut cahaya, maka nanti cacing protes tak mahu makan dan akhirnya bunuh diri. Jadi yang rugi kita. Tong di atas saya beli di kedai plastik dan barang-barang merepek di pekan berdekatan. Harga dia RM18.80. Tapi disebabkan saya datang masa kedai dah nak tutup dan yang jaga kedai tersebut adalah seorang apek tua, jadi dia kasi diskaun. Dapat RM15.00. Ingat, timing itu penting. 

Tong plastik paling mudah sebab ia tak mudah reput dan kalis air. Kalau pakai tong kayu, lama-lama dengan tong-tong kayu itu sekali cacing akan makan. Seperti yang saya kat tadi, cacing adalah haiwan pelahap. 

Benda pertama kena buat selepas mendapatkan tong adalah mengoyak helaian suratkhabar seperti di atas. Lebar dalam satu inci dah cukup. Koyaklah sebanyak mana yang perlu. Keratan suratkhabar ini akan jadi tempat cacing melepak dan bertelur. Keratan suratkhabar ini juga adalah makanan kepada cacing. Cacing gemarkan kertas nipis, tisu dan sisa kopi dan teh. Lembut dan senang ditelan agaknya. 

Kemudian, pergi cari tanah yang lembut dan ada sisa-sisa organik. Saya ambil tanah seperti gambar di atas di bawah timbunan rumput dan kayu reput yang sebenarnya merupakan kediaman cacing. Bubuh tanah dalam satu inci atau satu setengah inci tingginya dari bawah tong. Pastikan tanah ini lembap tapi jangan sampai terlalu basah hingga air boleh bertakung. Cacing tanah tidak boleh hidup dalam air. Nama pun cacing tanah dan bukan cacing air. Kalau ada kayu-kayu reput dan rumput reput lagi bagus. Sembur sedikit dengan air agar tanah ini lembap. 

Kemudian, ambil keratan kertas suratkhabar tadi dan celup dalam air. Perah sedikit tapi jangan sampai kering. Cukuplah sampai tak ada air yang menitis keluar dari kertas apabila digenggam. Tabur rata di atas tanah tadi dengan ketebalan yang serupa. 

Bila semua dah cukup, sampai masa untuk cari cacing. Cari cacing senang saja. Lepas subuh, keluar ke padang depan rumah atau padang bola di kawasan perumahan dan korek di tempat-tempat teduh seperti di bawah pokok contohnya. Kalau nampak butir-butir tahi cacing di atas permukaan tanah, itu maksudnya ada cacing di bawahnya. Korek elok-elok dan jangan sampai mencederakan cacing, apatah lagi memutuskan badannya. Sakit mata memandang nanti. Cacing di atas adalah yang paling besar saya jumpa. Panjangnya ada dalam empat inci. Cari dalam 20-50 ekor. Tak payah banyak-banyak sebab cacing akan membiak. Nanti jadi rumah setinggan kerana terlalu banyak cacing. 

Buat dua lapisan tanah dan kertas bertimpa-timpa: 1 lapis tanah, 1 lapis kertas, 1 lapis tanah, 1 lapis kertas. Setiap lapisan adalah setebal satu sehingga satu setengah inci. Gambar di atas dah ada 2 lapis kertas dan 2 lapis tanah. Saya saja letak satu lapis lagi kertas basah di atas lapisan tanah terakhir untuk memastikan tanah kekal lembap. Juga saya tabur kulit mangga dan rumput-rumput reput di atasnya. Cacing aktif pada waktu malam. Jadi bila ada banyak makanan di permukaan tanah, cacing akan keluar dan berparti sehingga pagi. Dalam sebulan dua, siaplah tanah kompos yang dicerna daripada semua benda organik di dalam kotak ini. 

Pastikan kotak ini tertutup tapi jangan terlalu rapat. Cacing juga perlu bernafas. Cuba bayangkan sekiranya anda dikurung di dalam peti kedap udara bertemankan makanan yang banyak. Lambat laun anda akan mati tak bernafas juga. Jadi pastikan udara boleh masuk ke dalam bekas cacing. Jauhkan cacing daripada semut, itik, ayam, cicak, lipas, babi hutan dan apa segala binatang yang diketahui gemar makan cacing. Letak di bawah sinki atau mana-mana tempat yang gelap dan sejuk. Nak letak di bilik tidur pun tak apa. Kotak ini tak ada keluarkan apa-apa bau busuk selagi anda tidak masukkan makanan berminyak dan berunsurkan daging di dalamnya. Itu adalah benda yang pantang dimasukkan. Masukkan hanya sisa sayuran segar dan buah sahaja. Jangan nak lebih-lebih. Nanti anda bukan bela cacing tapi bela anak lalat. 

Sembur permukaan tanah dalam sekali sehari. Nanti bila cacing dah selesa, cacing akan makan sebanyak-banyaknya dan bertelur dengan banyak juga. Dalam kotak ini baru ada 32 ekor cacing setakat hari ini. Itu pun kalau tak ada yang mati. Semoga cacing belaan saya akan makan dan membiak dengan banyak. Cacing diketahui sebagai sumber makanan protein dan ada yang diproses menjadi alat kosmetik. Memandangkan saya bukanlah seseorang yang kekurangan protein mahupun saya mempunyai inisiatif untuk membangunkan industri kosmetik, cukuplah setakat saya bela cacing untuk mendapatkan baja saja. 

Cukup untuk waktu ini. Ada masa saya blog lagi. Esok nak buat rumah sungkupan untuk tanaman saya. Kayu dan paku semua dah ada. Nanti saya update di entry yang lain. 

Oh. Dah habis tulis baru perasan yang saya tulis dalam bahasa Melayu. Pergh.

p/s: periksa lipstick anda; adakah ia berunsurkan cacing?